Gameday preview: Wild at Senators

Whenever the Minnesota Wild come back to Ottawa things always seem to get heated. Just ask their equipment guys who had to once deal with their team’s van catching fire on the trek from practice at the Kanata Rec Centre to what was then Scotiabank Place.

Gameday preview: Wild at Senators
Ryan Suter #20 of the Minnesota Wild looks on as teammate Josh Harding #37 stops the puck during the overtime period of the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 13, 2013 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. The Wild defeated the Maple Leafs 2-1 in a shootout. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Minnesota Wild (13-5-4)
@
Ottawa Senators (8-9-4)
Canadian Tire Centre: 7:30 pm EST

Storylines…

Whenever the Minnesota Wild come back to Ottawa things always seem to get heated. Just ask their equipment guys who had to once deal with their team’s van catching fire on the trek from practice at the Kanata Rec Centre to what was then Scotiabank Place.

In what TSN 1200’s Ian Mendes is billing as ‘Villain Night’ at the Canadian Tire Centre, Dany Heatley and Matt Cooke are back in the nation’s capital.

Considering the backstory and recent news of his settlement over a grievance filed by Senators owner Eugene Melnyk back in 2009, you would assume that fans would be itching for another chance to boo their former hero.

It certainly feels like the resentment towards Heatley has calmed. It probably speaks volumes about how far Dany Heatley has fallen. No longer playing a prominent role, Heatley currently averages the 8th-highest amount of ice-time per game with the Wild and his 3 goals and 5 points in 22 games make him the team’s 12th highest scorer.

Maybe in a roundabout way, fans are realizing that he did the organization a favor by asking to be moved.

Conversely, it still feels like there’s considerable amount of lingering bitterness towards Matt Cooke- the man responsible for putting Erik Karlsson on the sidelines with a partially severed Achilles tendon last season.

Although the Heatley and Cooke incidents will probably dominate the headlines and conversations on sports radio, they should not overshadow Josh Harding’s numbers and what is easily the best and most inspirational story in the NHL.

The Senators on the other hand are coming off another disappointing loss to Philadelphia and the refrain from the coaching staff is the same.

This team simply spends too much time in its own end.

If the Senators’ struggles continue, expect some sort of trade to shake things up.

Interesting Stat #1:

Puck possession has been an issue for the Ottawa Senators all season long, and the uncharacteristic inability of Spezza’s line to drive play has been baffling at times.

Blame injuries, the juggling of linemates, or whatever else suits your fancy, but at five-on-five last night, Jason Spezza struggled.

He was on the ice for 1 Corsi Event For and 13 Corsi Events Against and his linemate Milan Michalek was on the ice for 1 Corsi Event For and 12 Corsi Events Against (Note: Corsi Events are used as a metric for measuring puck possession. More specifically, shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots all count as a Corsi Event.)

Interesting Stat #2:

Ryan Suter has the highest number of assists (14) in the NHL for a player who has not scored a goal.

Interesting Stat #3:

Tonight’s game features a marquee match-up of the league’s top defencemen — Ryan Suter and Erik Karlsson — who average the most ice-time per game in the NHL. Suter’s 29:29 per game is exactly two minutes more than Karlsson’s 27:29 per game.

Should this two-minute margin hold up over the course of the season, it would be the biggest margin of difference between the highest and second highest amount of average ice-time per game since the NHL tracked and publicized the statistic on their website.

Interesting Stat #4:

According to Statspass.com, the Minnesota Wild are tied with the Boston Bruins for having played in the most games games in which they’ve allowed one goal or fewer.

Here’s the leaderboard below:

  • Minnesota: 10
  • Bruins: 10
  • Canadiens: 9
  • Avalanche: 9
  • Kings: 8
  • Penguins: 8

 

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